Almost two years after Samdrupjongkhar thromde took initiative to discourage the use of plastic bags in the town, vendors and customers are seen using it.

The thromde started the initiative in 2016 to discourage both the vendors and customers from using plastic carry bags and maintain Samdrupjongkhar as zero waste town.

Vendors supported the initiative initially but had to use plastic bags as customers refused to bring their own bags.

A vegetable vendor, Ugyen Dema, 50, said they provide plastic packing bags because customers do not bring their shopping bags and if they do not give plastic bags, they are scared the customers would not buy from them.

She said that she usually earns Nu 5,000 to 6,000 a day but after she stopped providing plastic bags, she earned about Nu 1,000 only. “It affects our business and the vegetables get damaged.”

Another vendor, Cheki Wangmo, 32, said she knows that they are not supposed to use plastic bags but she is helpless as some of the customers directly come from offices to buy vegetables without a carry bag. “We have to give them plastic bags.”

She said customers only choose vendors that provide plastic bags and even go to India for shopping where plastic bags are given.

The thromde environment officer, Sonam Choden, agreed that the implementation of the initiative is weak due to lack of support from vendors coupled with the demand for plastic bags from the customers.

She, however, said they could not carry out strict monitoring as they lack human resources. “But we cannot call the initiative a failure.”

The thrompon, Karma Sherab Thobgyal, said that they could not implement the initiative strictly despite carrying out frequent inspection. “We are trying to achieve zero waste in Samdrupjongkhar and we take environmental matters seriously.”

Kelzang Wangchuk | Samdrupjongkhar